Peachy Keen on Paula Deen (and other pennysaver-worthy plays on words)

The other day my friend Richard sent me a link to David Byrne’s blog, where he’s talking about visiting Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons in Savannah, Georgia. Richard didn’t know at the time, but I’ve been semi-obsessed with this woman since Christmas, when, while back home in Virginia, I saw her face all over the Smithfield Ham websites I shopped, and heard about her cookbook from my aunts.

Paula Deen IS my aunts. In fact, she embodies much of what I miss about the South. The too-good-to-be-true Belle Twang, using more words than need be, each one packed with an extra syllable or two. The Southern Baptist cooking philosophy (at least one ingredient in every dish comes from a can). The unapologetic abundance of butter and mayo. The big, dumb sons. The gettin’ your hair did until it is done.

I didn’t care for it when I lived in the South, but now that stuff’s like flannel sheets to me. Makes me phone my momma, even.

The Deen dishes I’ve tried have not all been “crazy delicious,” as she clumsily parroted in one episode of her Food Network show, Paula’s Home Cookin’. But I still hate missing an episode. I’m comforted by her exaggerated drawl, reassured by her smoker’s rattle, and hypnotized by her this-ain’t-my-first-marriage bling. Such a caricature is she, I at first thought she was a professional Southerner (Dr. Phil, Jeff Foxworthy). I’ve since become convinced Deen’s the reee-yull deee-yull. True, she leans on the ‘y’all’s pretty heavily, but at least she uses them correctly. (It’s a plural, people!) And her preacher’s wife enthusiasm may be faux by design, but this is the spin many Southern women embrace. It’s a garden club diplomacy thang. If you’ve ever been “bless your heart” –ed by one, you know what I mean.

So on the heels of David Byrne’s ink, the New York Times gives her some today. Haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping it'll ease my grief over missing this morning's episode. “Back Porch Breakfast.” (I think I saw that one on the Spice Channel once.) Peppered bacon, the brownest of hash browns (brown = tasty), homemade sausage, and oysters in an upside-down baked egg thing. Topped with yet more bacon. And a cake. For breakfast.

GOD I want to eat on Paula Deen's back porch. And dish with her over Gooey Butter Cake and bourbon sours.

Lovin' the Little

Plenty to be vexed about over the weekend. That sorority kicking out all the fat and/or brown girls (attention, Michael Apted – kindly check in with these young women at seven year intervals and let’s see which group finds more happiness and success, the shallow goose-steppers, or the ones who joined a sorority, not realizing what a sorority is). That, and I discovered that a fluffernutter should never be made with hippie peanut butter, even when that’s all you have in the house.

But did I get disheartened? Not one smidge. I had tickets to Jimmy Scott.

I’ve wanted to see this man perform for round about ten years, since roughly the beginning of his Second Career™, and so excited was I, my chronically tardy ass arrived 30 minutes early to meet my man at work. Having no taxicash on me, I gave the cabbie my driver’s license so he’d sit whilst I jumped out and fetched the boy. I then insisted we suffer through a misbegotten meal at Iridium (not worth mentioning, so I won’t), in order to snag seats all up on the stage.

I wanted to count Jimmy Scott’s nose hairs, and no amount of overcooked pork was gonna keep me from being in line when the doors opened.

Wife Jeanie helped the unsteady crooner onto the stage, where the mythical creature, just as comfortable in a tux as in a ‘do rag (spellchecker just rescued me from making an inadvertent Homer Simpson joke), and donning the former this evening, perched atop a kitchen chair and tapped his lavender alligator shoes, keeping time with the death tempo.

There was some confusion over the name of the band. The Jimmy Scott Quartet? The Jazz Expressions? I think they were the Jazz Expressions one bass player ago. TK Blue on tenor saxophone and flute, a newb whose name I didn’t catch on bass, Dwayne “Cook” Broadnax on drums (and cook, he did), and Aaron Graves, doggie-stylin’ the Steinway and governing the goings on with a pleasant calm not unlike that of the babyhead sun smiling down from a Teletubbies sky.

Little Jimmy needed lyric sheets. And someone to turn the pages for him. He jumped in at the wrong place a time or two. Risked fewer than a dozen words of banter. But the voice is still cinnamon butter, and Jimmy Scott spreads it with a generous hand and a smiley soul. Like dropping a jar of jam on a hard tile floor. Percussive, yet smooth. A chaotic crash, smothered by a cashmere blanket. The evening was too far from sold out, and our early show audience was invited to stay for the second set, without paying another admission. That made me sad. And I couldn’t even stifle my sorrows with a decent fluffernutter when I got home. D’oh!

Honestly, I don’t know why Jimmy Scott hasn’t been elected god by now.

Sometimes I really miss the South.

“The new Monster Biscuit is made using three half-strips of bacon, a sausage patty, four slices of shaved ham, a folded egg, and two slices of cheese, all on a Made-From-Scratch Biscuit."

This lard stack is the wet dream of every cardiologist with alimonies, an expensive mistress, and/or kids in college. (And me.)

Awaken the senses. But not all of 'em at once.

Giuliani Quinnipiacked several points ahead of Hillary Clinton yesterday (what are you people thinking?), so I escaped into a new Domino’s Cheesy Garlic Bread Pizza.

There are two things pizza needs, and chain pizzas haven’t enough of either. Grease and garlic. Unless you add an oil laden topping, this one’s as shine-free as the rest, but they gave it the ol’ college try with the garlic.

There are two kinds of garlic. Real garlic, and harsh, processed, tastes-like-burning, powdered garlic. Sadly, Domino’s has gone with B. My companion thought it was too garlicky. I just thought it was too artificial. Would likely be popular in Second Life Land, though. Wonder if Domino’s delivers there.

This ‘zah is a sans sauce selection, but you can add whatever toppings you like. Except maybe sauce. Nah. That would screw with their inspired vision of this pie. The interactive marketing campaign (do not watch this on the ganj) invites you to “taste the buttery crust, smell the garlic, look at all that cheese,” and as long as you follow those instructions to the letter, you’ll do fine. But try and taste something you’ve been told to merely smell or look at, and you’ll run into trouble. The cheese does come in loads of pretty colors, though, and the “buttery” was an appetizing shade of yellow. Too bad it’s not otherwise detectable.

It gets me plenty laughed at in NYC, but I’m actually a fan of Domino’s Brooklyn Style pizza. It ain’t Brooklyn style, but it’s good. The Cheesy Garlic Bread Pizza? Once was enough.

Yo, Domino’s! Grease up and call me.

Happy Fat Tuesday

Some happy fat suggestions:

The happy fat art.

The happier fat t-shirt.

The Fraidy-Cats of Fat

Annie Leibowitz employs the shoulder roll and the things-in-the-distance-appear-smaller trick (and surely some fatphobic editing) to make the luscious Jennifer Hudson fit onto the small-minded cover of that altar of vapidity, Vogue Magazine. I feel bad JHud had to be the personification of the joke, but I can’t help laughing at this. The thought of a table of gay men and dried apricot ladies deciding what a sexy woman is makes me snot myself.

Annie L: Well, I made her do this twisty-contorto pose to coax the collarbones out, and I put her ass in another room, but still…

Photoshop Felix: Faboo! I’ll just trim the waist, shadow the tummy, reshape the arms, and darken a ridge-like band across the tops of those icky tah-tahs, to make them more orb-like and augmented looking. Y’know. The cadaverous-but-fabulous look.

Anna Wintour (deep voice, smoker’s rattle in the lungs): Paint the collarbones on. Now if you’ll excuse me, it appears I’ve snapped my femur again.

Some less offensive photos are here.

The Year of the Pig

With the traditional Chinese New Year firecrackers Giuliani-ed nearly a decade ago, and regrettably replaced this year by a “limited and controlled” fireworks display (isn’t that like a “limited and controlled” orgasm?), one must find another way to welcome this porcine annum.

I recommend taking advantage of the edible-ness of this new year’s namesake, celebrating with what is perhaps my all-time favorite comfort food, roast pork chow fun. (Note: no matter how inviting the menu makes it sound, this should not be done for the year of the dog, horse, or rat.)

Back home in Virginia, all I saw of chow fun was when it was written on plywood signs in front of Chinese fast food places where the disgusto in the grease traps could be seen from the highway. But since discovering this concoction’s homey goo’ness, I’ve based all my where-I-order-my-Chinese-from decisions on who has the tastiest version of this dish. (Currently Wu Liang Ye on East 86th, where they serve up really good, if inconsistent, glob of it.)

Chow fun is a thin, flat rice noodle, sometimes varied and alternately called mei fun or mai fun, and when you pepper it with smoky-sweet and red-edged roast pork slices, I swear, that and a broken-in pair of sweatpants can make you forget all about this from-beyond-the-grave slap fight Britney and Anna Nicole are having over who snags the creepiest headlines.

Sorry, Anna Nicole, but when whichever eBayer wins Spears’ shears-shorn (by the sea shore) locks publishes the hair analysis results, she’ll surely pull ahead in the media whore-lympics. Personally, buying a celebrity’s hair is, like, so two husbands ago. At three Marlboro butts, a small vial of backwash, and a signed affidavit from actor Ben Gazzara, swearing he’s not hiding (and sometimes not hiding) up Britney’s skirt*, my Brit-abilia collection’s only a starter. But still. I’d not trash it up with a fallen idol’s beauty shop sweepins.

I am, however, bidding on that Red Bull can. If I can harvest some spittle from it, I’ll have a matching set.

*For a NSFW photo-illustration of just who's snug as a bug 'neath Brit's C-section scar, click on the pig. Or on the piggy bank.

Subway... eat, kvetch.

I should be flagellating myself for neglecting to tell you to take your Valentine to see chamber rockers Ethel at Symphony Space last night. Without my guidance, you probably just bought your honey a box of Whitman’s and one o’ them cruelty-packed tattooed guppies, didn’t ya? (Rolls eyes at imaginary readers’ imaginary bad behavior.) I hope to make up for it by reporting on Subway’s new Big Hot Pastrami Sub.

They perhaps need to look up the word ‘big,’ but this thing ain’t awful. It’s no Katz’s (a statement surely deserving of some “w’duh” award), and it was disappointingly skimpy (pastrami’s meant to be piled, can I get an amen?), but since the sad disappearance of Pastrami Queen last year, my ‘hood suffers a dearth of girth-enhancing deli meats, and I was curious to test drive this sandwich.

Sliced too thin and a bit fattier than I like, this misnomer of a sandwich won't have pastrami purists lining up. If they did, they’d likely pop a cap in the Subwaif’s neck upon hearing they don’t have rye. But the flavor was surprisingly pastrami-like, and the spicy mustard (they get points for “we recommend” -ing it) was good.

It ain’t the pastrami for your boy in the Ahhmy, but if you can’t get downtown or to the West Side, or even to Harold’s New York Deli in Edison, NJ (monstrous and greasy-delish), but you’re jonesin’ and need pastrami to jump through the phone, try the Big Hot Pastrami Sub. Besides, Subway’s counter crew is always entertaining.

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UPDATE: Thanks to the reader who wrote and hipped me to the fact that Pastrami Queen has now reopened a few blocks south of their old location, on East 78th and Lex. Seriously, it’s the most under-appreciated pastrami sandwich in Manhattan. But I’ll still dial up Subway when I’m in need of a soft, mild Meatball Parm on Italian Herb & Cheese bread. And an amusing excuse for not delivering. “It’s too cold!” I later learned that meant the delivery guy had a cold. “I have a family!”

I shall never know what that one meant.

Do woodland creatures really have satiny pink poons?*

I arrived an hour and a half into last night's party, and had to cool my heels in the cold for a few minutes, whilst a bikini-clad girl danced around inside a giant latex balloon, just inside the glass doors. Then the balloon popped, and I was allowed in. Just like in real life.

After inviting friend Janie to be my plus one at the opening reception for The Museum of Sex’s KINK: Geography of the Erotic Imagination, I looked up a couple of the news-to-me fetishes listed in the show’s literature. Lo and behold, one of ‘em is the love of very tall women. I knew the 6-foot-in-stockings Janie would feel at home. Adored, even.

When I saw they were admitting only those with invitations, I was all atwitter. I'd be rubbing elbows (perhaps other stuff) with the NYC creme de la kink. Only the premium pervs will be here, I thought. But when I got inside, I found the place brimming with vanillas. Packed, in fact. Too crowded for good, high quality kinkin’, I feared. (And Michael Musto was leaving as I got there, so I hoped he wasn’t taking all the fun with him.) But I got to scratch behind the ears of a fox-headed furvert, compliment a man on his giant vinyl tah-tahs, and see an ass get the bejeezus whipped out of it. My checkered past didn’t allow me to get too excited by any of this, but the exhibit, itself, did not disappoint. It was comprehensive, kinkwise, and the notoriously entertaining fetish roadmap created by Katherine Gates (curator, and author of the kink bible, Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex) was well represented.

Just like at the Meatpacking District’s sadly defunct Vault, you’re greeted at the entrance by a sign reminding you to “respect the other visitors’ boundaries.” This was no meatpacking experience, but the show (on display until October, perhaps longer) takes you through a dozen or so kinks, using gear, artwork, equipment, video, text, and in one case, a diorama. Guests are invited to photograph, touch, and smell (!) the accoutrements as they explore such derring-do as Sado-Masochism, cannibalism, feederism, wanna-wear-diapers-ism, body expansion, sploshing, ponyplay, feet and footwear… (Sounds like an elevator operator announcing the floors of a very hip department store, no?) And the last stop on the ascent? “Love.”

Got to hang with my cartoonist friend and exhibitor Ned Sonntag and his posse, and watch the mighty, mighty Janie break a speculum. Girl has superhuman upper body strength. And god knows what else.

With such sponsors as and Equus Eroticus, I was really looking forward to this swag bag. But alas, I went home with only a couple business cards, a safe sex packet, and a smile.

*Click on the critter for a more gynecological view.

Kalamata Mia

I once had an adorable little lady sandwich of goat cheese and olive tapenade at Moby’s adorable little lady of an eatery, Teany, on the Lower East Side. (Recommended side stops: Economy Candy, Babes in Toyland, Orchard Corset.) I’d had at least a bite of everybody’s everything at our table that day, but remember nothing except the olive and goat cheese thing, which was sharp and smoky and salty and wonderful. Been wanting to have that combo again, and I’ve found a way to do it without giving more money to Moby, which we all know he'll just blow on crack whores and firearms.

FreshDirect’s Black Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese Rounds. They come frozen, and you bake ‘em “until the edges of the cheese flowers are lightly browned.” (Hey! Isn’t that a Moby lyric?) At about a buck a bite, you’ll wanna watch the oven closely. And don’t fret when you open the box and it looks like you’ve paid $10.99 for a dozen squirts of aerosol cheese on a Ritz. They puff. Then they delight. Then they make you ponder all the eleven dollar cab rides you coulda done without.

Not as pleasingly sharp and toasty textural as the teeny Teany version, but these more than make up for it with the addition of buttery pastry and a bit of onion. The repeatin’ sort. The description suggests these “blossoms” are, “Perfect with a glass of Gewurztraminer.” I say the tasty eyeball lookin’ things would be just as lovely with a can of Beast and a good belch.

And another dozen.

Baby, it's cold outside.

Scene from a TV newsroom:

Ok people, we need 17 minutes on how freak-ass cold it is. NASA wants us to distract ‘em from that wack astronaut love triangle diaper lady, and we sure as sheep sac don’t wanna spend a lotta time on the “oops, we bombed the Brits” story. No, I want wind chills, wearing layers, that how-much-heat-escapes-through-your-head statistic.... Johnson, gimme a graphic on the colors your cheeks turn as they become frostbitten. Rabinowitz, let’s hit the archives for some video. Red noses, frozen snot, that sort of thing. And Jonesy, I need an extended package on how to walk on the sunny side of the street…

(Serious. Yesterday one NYC broadcast, having so little confidence in the collective intellect of their viewers as to believe we’re unable to tell sunshiny sidewalks from shaded, actually told us which sides of which streets would be sunny. Neglected to mention the reverse would be true after noon.)

But through all these frigidy fillers and extenders, not one mention of hot chocolate. Journalistic integrity has indeed taken a dive, so I’ll take up the slack.

Scharffen Berger Drinking Chocolate. This ain’t no Swiss Miss. It’s not even cocoa, but semi-sweet shavings in a pretty box that boasts such ridiculously dainty instructions as, “It is best served in a demitasse.” It also suggests you use 1% milk, to which I say pish. It’s hot chocolate, g’dammit. Make it by the mugful and make it thick. And you needn’t fuss with stirring a pot, either. Dump the shavings into your milk mug and nuke it a minute and a half or so. (Watch it. It’ll ‘splode.) By the time the milk’s warm enough, the chocolate’s just about melted. Defile it with whipped cream, if you must. Stir, sit, and savor.

Really. Sit down. Focus. The stuff’ll give you a little buzz, if you let it.

Dress 'em up, piss 'em off, leave 'em naughty notes in Esperanto. Not as much freaky-fun as Subservient Chicken, but a great timesuck for those of us who can’t get enough o' them upwardly mobile cavemen.

Brie en Croute to Heal a Weary Nation

It’s been a dark year for leadership. A known sexual predator leading the House caucus to protect children from same. Vocal Senate opponent of net neutrality thinks the Internet’s a “series of tubes.” And the until-a-month-ago Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee believes global warming is some vast Weather Channel conspiracy, a fairytale concocted in order to jack up ratings.

And no more Molly Ivins to hold the flashlight for us.

In scary times like these, sometimes you just need to tuck in to something warm and gooey and wrapped in pastry dough. (No, I’m not kidding. Hey, we’ve installed the Congressional repair team. Now it's time to eat.)

This delectable crusty goo wad’s a week from my craw, but still stuck in my head. (And perhaps my lower intestine.)

Long a party staple, Brie en Croute is usually topped with a layer of orange marmalade, or a layer of sweet almond paste, or a layer of nothin’. FreshDirect’s version sports a substantial schmear of caramelized onion with a barely perceptible whisper of bacon, and earthy-mellow summer truffles for warmth and hominess.

It’s the truffle that won’t let go of me.

Freshdirect -- launched a few years ago by former Fairway brass -- is a shop-online grocery business with good prices, excellent FD-made fare, and delivery service throughout most of NYC. If loving them is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. Someday I’ll list the many reasons for this, but today I’ll say the one non-edible reason is they obviously employ the best erotica bards in the business to pen their food descriptions. It’s like porn to me. But this one fell short. No mention of truffles in the “about” for the baked brie. WTF? Wouldn’t you strut your truffles, if you were holding?

Anyway. Consider yourself hipped. This thing is truffle-icious. Make ya forget the District of Columbia even exists.
Well. Maybe two of 'em would.

NOTE: The heating instructions have you laying it out on a parchment lined baking sheet, all schmancy like. Don’t sweat that. I ain’t the sort to have parchment in the kitchen, but mine came out just this side of amazing.

The Biggest Galoots

With so many maniacal idiots finding great success (Bush, Trump, James Blunt), I hate to see well-intentioned idiots taking the beating they are today. Between Joe Biden marveling at Barack Obama being “articulate" and "clean” and The Cartoon Network guerilla-ing bomb-scary outdoor ads for Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force throughout terrorist-trap US cities, it’s a dark day for the dear-but-dumb.

Not since WKRP’s Thanksgiving Turkey Drop has a promo campaign gone so hilariously wrong. I hope Meatwad doesn’t lose his gig over this. Biden? Eh.